Syncopated Clock Listening Activity

Our spring studio recital is quickly approaching!   We’re in the final stretch of repertoire preparation, and it’s time to put on all of the finishing touches – the musical details that make our pieces convey emotion, or tell a story to the audience.

Last week at group lessons, I used this new listening activity to tune my elementary students ears into musical details before they performed their recital pieces for their peers. We listened to a fun piano & percussion rendition of The Syncopated Clock, and used this worksheet to explore the differences between the three “clocks” in the piece:

After we had talked through why this piece sounded like a clock, and how the composer made all three clocks different (dynamics, articulations, location of the melody), we listened to the whole piece and used the manipulatives below to diagram the form.   Students “hung” clocks on the living room wall in the order they heard them:

We discovered the song was written in rondo form!

As a follow-up to the listening activity, I gave students the option to start a new, clock-themed composer’s challenge:

They’ll be reinforcing their ear for musical details as they create three unique clocks of their own, then weave them together into various musical forms.  

To use this activity, you’ll need a recording of The Syncopated Clock.   I opted to use a piano-based version of this piece, rather than an orchestral recording, since I wanted my students to apply what they heard to the piano pieces they will be performing soon!   This is the recording I used.  You can also find a couple of 1p, 4h versions of this piece on YouTube (including a fun player-piano version!).  In both the piano duet and the piano-percussion recordings, the placement of the melody moves between sections.

Both the listening activity and the composing activity are available for download on my studio website.   You’ll find them on the Group Activities page, but these could definitely work in a private lesson, too!

(Note: I have to give some credit for the inspiration behind this particular activity to the WONDERFUL listening resources on the Classic for Kids website.  Most of their listening activities use orchestral music, but there are a few piano pieces on the list.  If you’re not familiar with them, they’re definitely worth checking out!!  )

Clock Song Composer's Challenge
Clock Song Composer's Challenge
Clock Song Composers Challenge.pdf
190.6 KiB
Syncopated Clock Listening Activity
Syncopated Clock Listening Activity
Syncopated Clock Listening Activity.pdf
494.8 KiB


Syncopated Clock Listening Activity — 9 Comments

    • I’m glad to your students enjoyed it, Linda. Thanks for sharing the scarf dance clip – I’m going to have to try that the next time I pull this out to use with my students!

  1. Hi Jen – love your things – we used the Syncopated Clock Listening Activity with third grade today as part of our Form unit, and it was very successful. I plan to use it again next year.

    I did have a question – would you consider tweaking the page with the clocks to have more of the alarm clocks and fewer of the old fashioned clocks, since students need two alarm clocks for the C section, and only one old fashioned clock for the B section?

    I wish I could make that change myself, but I don’t have software that would let me. Thanks for the good stuff!

    • Hi Noreen,

      I’m glad to hear that the Syncopated Clock Activity worked for you and your students! You make a good point about the clock graphic… I’m a bit swamped with a couple of student events over the next couple of weeks, but will put that on my “to-do” list for when I have the chance to get back to working on fun studio things! 🙂 I’ll send you an updated file when I have it.


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